MAVS activates TBK1 and IKKε through TRAFs in NEMO dependent and independent manner

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Mitochondrial antiviral-signaling protein (MAVS) transmits signals from RIG-I-like receptors after RNA virus infections. However, the mechanism by which MAVS activates downstream components, such as TBK1 and IKKα/β, is unclear, although previous work suggests the involvement of NEMO or TBK1-binding proteins TANK, NAP1, and SINTBAD. Here, we report that MAVS-mediated innate immune activation is dependent on TRAFs, partially on NEMO, but not on TBK1-binding proteins. MAVS recruited TBK1/IKKε by TRAFs that were pre-associated with TBK1/IKKε via direct interaction between the coiled-coil domain of TRAFs and the SDD domain of TBK1/IKKε. TRAF2-/-3-/-5-/-6-/- cells completely lost RNA virus responses. TRAFs' E3 ligase activity was required for NEMO activation by synthesizing ubiquitin chains that bound to NEMO for NF-κB and TBK1/IKKε activation. NEMO-activated IKKα/β were important for TBK1/IKKε activation through IKKα/β-mediated TBK1/IKKε phosphorylation. Moreover, individual TRAFs differently mediated TBK1/IKKε activation and thus fine-tuned antiviral immunity under physiological conditions.

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PLoS pathogens

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